Thursday, October 31, 2013

You Are What You Eat And Drink

The Story of Cinnamon in America



Cinnamon and Cassia are not obtained from the same plant.

When shopping for your family, you have to be diligent to insure that you are really buying what you think you are buying. After reading about the benefits of the everyday spice Cinnamon, Oma took to the habit of drinking a hot cup of cinnamon and honey every morning.

However, imagine Oma's surprise to learn most cinnamon sold in supermarkets in North America comes from the less expensive variety, Cassia which is actually a cousin of cinnamon. Due to the presence of a moderately toxic component called Coumarin*, European health agencies have warned against consuming high amounts of cassia.

Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), sometimes called true cinnamon, has a long history. It originated in Asia, mostly Sri Lanka and India. Now, cinnamon shrubs are grown in almost every tropical region of the world.

Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices known. It was mentioned in the Old Testament. In the book of Exodus, God instructs Moses to make a holy anointing oil out of cinnamon, cassia, olive oil, myrrh, and hemp.

From the 16th to the 19th centuries, there were power struggles among European nations over who would control Ceylon and the lucrative cinnamon industry. In the early part of the 19th century, other countries began growing cinnamon and it became available to everyone.

Today, Ceylon cinnamon is produced in Sri Lanka, India, Madagascar, Brazil and the Caribbean, while Cassia cinnamon is mainly produced in China, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Although related, cinnamon and cassia are not obtained from the same plant. They should be treated as separate foods, both from a nutritional and a health standpoint. Ceylon cinnamon is typically more expensive than any of the cassia versions, and it is also the cinnamon more closely associated with potential health benefits involving blood sugar regulation. 


Jimbo’s is a natural foods grocer.

Oma special orders her Ceylon cinnamon from Jimbo’s. Jimbo’s is a natural foods grocer with locations in San Diego/Del Mar and Escondido. For 25 years, Jimbo’s has proudly supported local organic farms.

Organic means food is grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides or herbicides. Organically grown foods are higher in nutrients, including antioxidant vitamins, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. Over 95% of Jimbo’s produce is organically grown!

Both honey and cinnamon have been used to heal for centuries, on their own and as in combination. In Chinese medicine, following Yin and Yang principles, cinnamon is used to cure conditions of cold (excess Yin) as it is considered to be Yang (heat). In this case, honey is seen to be neutral, in balance.

Oma enjoys her cup of “Cinnamon and Honey Tea” every morning. In addition to the health benefits of this concoction, this simple beverage serves as a reminder to pay careful attention to the sustenance you choose for your body. 


* Coumarin is known to cause liver and kidney damage in high concentrations.

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